Instant reaction: 6 theses on the climate politics of the Greek crisis #oxi #climate
- Those who consume a lot are prepared to slash the consumption of those who already consume less
- We already saw w the Volcker shock in the US that this could be waged from above, as a proxy class war, for a short period of time
- We now see how this austerity can be imposed indefinitely (or at least, this is what Eurozone elites are hoping to do PIGS countries, and especially Greece), pitting nations against each other
- Eco-apartheid is a real prospect, and the EU is not a firewall against it but, perhaps, its most likely champion
- Austerity can be imposed in and by liberal democracies—but not indefinitely. There are forces on the right and left who will challenge it, and they may succeed by banding together. They won’t necessarily care about carbon concentration in the atmosphere. Climate activists should be very careful to not line up behind austerity. (Just repeating “green jobs” a hundred times a week is not enough; when push comes to shove, the substance of outsiders’ economic plans will be subjected to ruthless scrutiny)
- Germany: One of the world’s most advanced countries, on the energy front, is also the most powerful enforcer of austerity in terms of economics. It is very much a model for future climate politics, but not an attractive one!
- By analogy, the European Union, with Germany its most powerful member, sends a similar message: pro carbon reductions, friendly to austerity, prepared to enforce intense internal stratification, and suffering, to keep the current elites in power. Note that Syriza is one of EU’s most progressive governments on the migrants question. European elites, on the other hand, have only awful news for future climate migrants
- If a version of the proposal that Tsipras and Varoufakis presented to the Eurogroup before the referendum—a leftist, redistributive austerity—is revived and implemented (maybe w promised debt restructuring), we’ll learn how viable a leftist austerity is in the absence of wartime mobilization. If EU and IMF elites were less caged in by their own rigid ideologies, more flexible in their self-interest, and more interested in the future of climate politics, they would have welcomed the Syriza left austerity proposal as an opportunity to experiment with this different model. If they were even smarter, they would have committed to invest EU structural funds into things like solar energy (and retrofits, etc) to revitalize Greece’s productive sector in a far-sighted way. I’m not saying that I support leftist austerity. But I would interested to see it in action. I hope I don’t have to
- Some mid-term lessons for climate activists:
- We must take economically populist positions and win by marching the democratic road, or the sacrifices we eventually demand (whether minor and sectoral or broad and sweeping) will have to be imposed by massive economic and political violence, and end up reinforcing criminal inequalities, or those sacrifices will be refused by other populist movements
- We need serious macro-economic thinking to make ideas like selective de-growth more than a slogan: how can the everyday economy of most people keep thriving even if long-strategic sectors like fossil fuels and the manufacture of polluting crap (fast fashion, “Secret Santa” gifts, etc) are wound down; the biggest liability of the leftist #oxi and especially #grexit camps in Greece is the lack of a real short- and mid-term plan to revive their economy if Greece ends up leaving the Eurozone
- Syriza rose in part out of disgust with austerity, but much of their credibility (rightly) came from being political outsiders, and hence the plausibility that they could tackle corruption (including of heavily concentrated private media) and shatter the oligarchy; climate politics are a politics of alignment; climate activists need to show that we’re not just against a few fossil fuel companies, but that we are credible partners of a coalition that will go after corruption and oligarchs (which exist in every country). We need to be ready to fight these other fights from the start.
- The Latin American pink tide was enabled by a boom in commodity exports, largely to China. It’s an extractivist model that’s bad for the climate, and bad for those economies. Greece can’t go down that road. Leaving aside questions of organization, culture, social movement structure, etc, Syriza could teach interesting lessons about the prospects of a mass leftist movement transforming society without plumping coffers with easy commodity export money. It could also be a laboratory for a clean energy start-up economy if its economic planners are clever and committed enough
(Sorry – too much rush for links)